People - Slim Randles

Home Country – Thinking about forest fires

Slim Randles
Slim Randles

“Some idiot started it,” Windy said, parking himself at the philosophy counter here at the Mule Barn truck stop. “Couldn’t hardly respirate myself this here mornin.’”

Steve and the others nodded and sipped. We all knew the topic of today’s coffee discussion: forest fires. We have one. Look out the front window where the words “open” and “café” appear to be written backwards. Look past the parking lot with its waiting pickup trucks. Look above the trees across the street above the bar ditch. The sky is a dirty red this morning, with the sun having to filter through miles of smoke that just hours ago was forest up in the mountains.

“Went off and left a fire going, I heard,” Dud said. We all shook our heads. Anyone over the age of five knew enough not to do that.

“You remember back … oh, maybe 30 years now, Doc,” Windy said, “when that fire wiped out Billy’s old cabin at the gold claim?”

“Yes I do. Killed a bunch of deer, too. Campbell Canyon. Looks like this fire’s about in the same place.”

“If I was philosophatin’ I’d reckon that fire didn’t get enough trees the first time around and jest waited ‘til some more of ‘em growed up and then come back and burned them up, too.”

“That old fire,” Doc said, “was caused by a lightning strike, Windy.”

“Oh, I know. Thass why I said it were a philosophatin’ thingie. You know, like we know it ain’t true, but mebbe worth thinkin’ ‘bout.”

We all nodded in silent agreement because what else could we do? And we really didn’t understand what he was getting at, but here came Loretta with the coffee pot, so who really cares?

Brought to you by the novel Sun Dog Days, by Slim Randles. From